Monday, January 31, 2011

Last Day Of January 2011 In Tucson

The balmy weather we've been having for the last week has changed to skies that are cloudy and the temperature is a bit cooler. This morning I went out by the pool and took a few pictures of the clouds rolling in over the Santa Catalina mountains. You can click each photo to see a larger version.

Here is the first photo, taken at 8:00 A.M.

Here is the next one, taken at 8:30 A.M.

Taken at 9 A.M.

Taken at 10 A.M.

Taken at about 11 A.M.

After noon, the sky cleared and the sun shone down brightly. The wind died and the temperature rose into the 60s.

And that's the weather for today.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Less Blogging, More Readin' and Writin'


This will be the last of my daily blog entries. From now on I will blog only when I feel inclined to do so. It might be once or twice a week, or even less than that. I intend to do more serious writing and more reading of both fact and fiction each day... eBooks, KindlePC books, and printed novels.

Virginia Woolf's father, Leslie Stephen, counseled her in the art of effective reading: his advice, as recounted by Woolf in A Writer's Diary, was to read what one liked because one liked it [and] never to pretend to admire what one did not.

I will be reading books that I like.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Laundry, Chores, Etc.



I was just informed that Julia Spencer-Fleming is still actively writing novels. She and I used to discuss writing and shared some critiques when she was a member of my writers group. Back when Julia had her first book (In The Bleak Midwinter) published I bought it through but then did not buy any of her subsequent works-- now she has another new one coming out in April. Its title is One Was A Soldier. She now has a website, so you can read all about Julia and her several novels


There are some things I have to do this morning so the blogging has to be put on hold for now. Maybe time will permit more later in the day. Maybe...


Monday, January 24, 2011

Don't Feel Like Thinking Up A Title

As I was walking southward on Conestoga Avenue I noticed that I was being paced by a pair of coyotes on the other side of the road. I think they were wanting to cross over but were prevented from doing so by my presence. There was a lot of brush over there and even though I took seven shots with my camera only one of them caught a full body photo. Here it is:

Coyote ambling down Conestoga Ave., Tucson, AZ


The Humane Society of The United States is the nation's largest and most effective animal protection organization

This is s real-life Rescued Dog
Now living with a family that cares.


Sam Harris Is Still Around
His latest book is:

Lawrence M. Krauss, theoretical physicist, Director of the Origins Project at Arizona State University, author of The Physics of Star Trek and Quantum Man wrote:

Reading Sam Harris is like drinking water from a cool stream on a hot day. He has the rare ability to frame arguments that are not only stimulating, they are downright nourishing, even if you don’t always agree with him! In this new book he argues from a philosophical and a neurobiological perspective that science can and should determine morality. As was the case with Harris’ previous books, readers are bound to come away with previously firm convictions about the world challenged, and a vital new awareness about the nature and value of science and reason in our lives.

Okay... I admit that I have not yet read The Moral Landscape but I intend to do so soon.



The New Athe­ists' Narrow Worldview is the title of an article by Stephen T. Asma in The Chronicle Review, published January 32, 2011

The article's basic premise seems to be that The New Atheists (Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens Dennett, PZ Myers, et al.) are "throwing out the baby with the bathwater" by lumping 'all' religions together in the same (superstitious nonsense) pot -- that they're wrong in imagining that the primary job of religion is morality; that they are ignoring non-western beliefs such as Buddhism, for example, which is about finding a form of psychological happiness.

Animism is defined by dictionaries as:
Animism (from Latin anima "soul, life") refers to the belief that non-human entities are spiritual beings, or at least embody some kind of life-principle.

According to this article, animism is the belief that there are many kinds of persons in this world, only some of whom are human, and that animism in its various forms is the world's largest religion.

Ste­phen T. Asma is a professor of philosophy and a fellow of the Research Group in Mind, Science and Culture at Columbia College Chicago. His latest book is "Why I Am a Buddhist"

As is often the case, some of the rational comments following this article are more illuminating than is the article itself.

I can't say that I wholeheartedly agree with Stephen Asma's Buddhist conclusions, but as always for me, new ideas are worth reading and considering, and I will admit that the subject of animism is fascinating food for thought.

And I intend to delve more deeply into this subject of animism.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Blog Rhymes With Slog


As we entered a Tucson Safeway store . . .
at just after nine on Saturday morning -
a recreational balloon passed overhead.


Q: What is a book good for?
A: A book...


From: A.W.A.D

verb intr.:
To reason earnestly with someone in order to dissuade.

Wow! I had always thought the word meant 'to object loudly.' Now I see that I was wrong.

Another word with which I was mistaken about its meaning:

the dominance or leadership of one social group or nation over others;


With traditional soup, you make a big pot of it, and cook everything together, so the flavors of the vegetables/ beans/ meat/ whatnot all get blended into the broth.

But with this soup, it's exactly the opposite. You don't make a big pot of it at once; instead, you make just a bowl or two of it at a time, ad hoc. You cook your protein, you saute your veggies... and then, at the very last minute right before you're ready to eat, you put all the stuff in a bowl, and pour the hot broth/ stock over it.


While conversing on the phone, a person all of a sudden speaks nonsensical words, such as, when intending to say, "Okay, see you when you get home" instead enunciates: "Ki say ya one jewgetum."

Is this a sign of senility? A simple form of forgetfulness? Or a physical disability (such as a brain malfunction) that comes and goes?

I question this because it's been happening to me lately.


The Writer's Almanac
credits Aryn Kyle with saying: She loves the thrill of beginning a new story and she loves the glory of finishing a first draft. But all of that time writing in between can be difficult and discouraging, she said, like "digging through concrete with a salad fork"

Now that's a pretty good description of the process of writing fiction.


To Kill A Mockingbird


Regarding To Kill a Mockingbird: Flannery O'Connor said, "It's interesting that all the folks that are buying it don't know they are reading a children's book."

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Back Home Again, In Indiana


A Friend back in Indiana sent me a
Hoosier History Lesson

Tomato juice was first served at a French Lick, Indiana hotel in 1925.
The first tomato juice factory was also in French Lick, IN.
World famous basketball star Larry Bird lives in French Lick, IN.
The world's largest orchid species collection is found at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana.
The first regulated speed limit (20 - 25 mph!) was initiated on Indiana roads in 1921.
The steepest railroad grade in the world is in Madison, Indiana.
An average of 400 funnel clouds are sighted each year in Indiana.
The city of Gary, Indiana, was built on fill brought from the bottom of Lake Michigan through suction pipes.
There are only two Adams fireplaces in the United States. One is in the White House and the other in the Diner Home in Indiana.
The Indianapolis Methodist Hospital is the largest Hospital in the Midwest.
One of the first complete bathrooms in Indianapolis was in the home of Hoosier poet, James Whitcomb Riley.
The career of Dorothy Lamour was launched in Indianapolis .
Aviatrix Amelia Earhart was once a Professor at Purdue University.
Crown Hill Cemetery ( Indianapolis ) is the largest cemetery in the U.S.
The library in Fort Wayne, Allen County, Indiana, houses one of the largest genealogy libraries in America.
Wabash, Indiana, was the first electrified city in the U.S.
Pendleton, Indiana, was the site of the first hanging of a white man for killing Indians.
The Courthouse roof in Greensburg, Indiana, has a tree growing from it.
The world's first transistor radio Regency TR 1, price $ 49.95 was made in Indianapolis.
Clark Gable and wife Carole Lombard (born in Fort Wayne, IN ) honeymooned at Lake BarBee near Warsaw, Indiana.
The American Beauty Rose was developed at Richmond, Indiana.
Elkhart, Indiana, is the band instrument capitol of the World.
Frank Sinatra first sang with the Tommy Dorsey band at the Lyric Theater in Indianapolis.
U.S. 231 is the longest highway in Indiana (231miles).
Johnny Appleseed is buried at Fort Wayne, under an apple tree.
The main station of the Underground Railroad was in Fountain County, Indiana.
There are 154 acres of sculpture gardens and trails at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.
Nancy Hanks Lincoln is buried in Posey County, Indiana.
Pendleton, Indiana was the site of the 'Fall Creek Massacre'. A museum housing 3500 artifacts of pioneer heritage now exists on that site.
A buzz bomb (German - WWII), believed to be the only one on public display in the nation, can be found on the Putnam County Courthouse lawn in Greencastle.
Roberta Turpin Willett was born in Indiana .
James Dean was born and is buried in Fairmount Indiana.
The world's tallest woman lived in Indiana.
Red Skelton was born in Vincennes, Indiana,
Mae West and Claude Akins were from Bedford, Indiana.
The inventor of the television, Philo T. Farnsworth, lived in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Forrest Tucker was from Plainfield, Indiana.
Bob Greise is from Evansville, Indiana and was quarterback at Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN.
Toni Tenille (of The Captain and Tenille) is from Indiana.
Florence Henderson is from Indiana.
The much sought-after Hoosier Cabinets are an Indiana product.
90% of the world's popcorn is grown in Indiana.
The Jackson Five are from Gary, Indiana.
The birthplace of the automobile, the pneumatic rubber tire, the aluminum casting process, stainless steel and the first push-button car radio was in Kokomo, Indiana.
Frank Borman, NASA astronaut, was born in Gary, Indiana
Jerry Ross, NASA astronaut was born in Crown Point, Indiana
Virgil Grissom, NASA astronaut was born in Mitchell, Indiana
and . . .
Charles Gene Chambers was born in Rensselaer, Indiana.

Friday, January 21, 2011

This Wondrous World Wide Web


I am discovering so many new and interesting things on the web. For instance:

Beetles are coloring your food.

Since Jan. 5, the FDA has required food manufactures to disclose whether red cochineal beetles are among their products' ingredients. These beetles are farmed, harvested, dried and crushed to produce a red dye called carmine that, until this year, had been disguised in the ingredient list as "artificial color," "color added" or the all-encompassing "natural and artificial coloring."

Carmine provides pink, red and purple coloring to foods such as ice cream, yogurt, candy, and fruit drinks (should you permit that last one to be categorized as a food). Because of lax labeling laws, the extent of carmine in foods and drinks is not known.

And . . .

You can listen to music
at, Sonny James Radio

Or you can pick and choose the
type of music you want to hear.

And . . .

You can take courses -- for free -- from
Massachusetts Institute of Technology!
More than 2,000 courses are offered and yes
there are courses in various types of writing.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) OpenCourseWare (OCW) is a web-based publication of virtually all MIT course content. OCW is open and available to the world and is a permanent MIT activity. There is no registration or enrollment process because OCW is not a credit-bearing or degree-granting initiative.

And . . .

The Books from Russia website is the official English language resource on contemporary Russian literature and the Russian publishing industry. Its aim is to promote new Russian writing by providing the international publishing community with in-depth and up-to-date information about contemporary Russian books, their authors and publishers, and facilitating means of collaboration with Russian partners.

And . . .

Linguistics is the scientific study of language.

On Language
is a collection of On Language columns published in The New York Times. Ben Zimmer is the magazine's new columnist.

Popular Linguistics Magazine is a monthly online publication which aims to bring linguistics and language research to anyone who’s interested.

And . . .

Congressman John Lewis, reportedly, said --
"I happen to believe that health care is a right."


Another thing I recently discovered, although not from the web, but from a TV show:

In an episode of Star Trek The Next Generation, while describing the power consumption of the Enterprise, Commander Data said, "Yes Captain, we are currently generating 20.7 billion Gigawatts."

Good Grief! Evidently, running a starship takes a great deal of power.


Thursday, January 20, 2011


Full moon East of Tucson, early evening, January 2011

A Blank Blog . . . Almost

I have nothing to write about at this moment.

"Blank blog..."
"Try saying that out loud ten times rapidly.

Blank blog...
Blank blog...
Blank blog...
Blank blog...
Blank blog...
Blank blog...
Blank blog...
Blank blog...
Blank blog...
Blank blog...


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Birthday Greetings To Dolly Parton


Dolly Parton
Born January 19, 1946

The About Dolly website states:

Dolly Parton is the most honored female country performer of all time. Achieving 25 RIAA certified gold, platinum and multi-platinum awards, she has had 25 songs reach number 1 on the Billboard Country charts, a record for a female artist. She has 41 career top 10 country albums, a record for any artist, and she has 110 career charted singles over the past 40 years. All-inclusive sales of singles, albums, hits collections, paid digital downloads and compilation usage during her Hall of Fame career have reportedly topped a staggering 100 million records world-wide.

She has garnered 7 Grammy Awards, 10 Country Music Association Awards, 5 Academy of Country Music Awards, 3 American Music Awards and is one of only five female artists to win the Country Music Association's Entertainer of the Year Award.

Dolly Parton's Imagination Library
brings books to children and thereby improves the educational opportunities of children in your own backyard and in communities around the world.

Once again . . .

Dolly Parton
Born January 19, 1946


"When my time comes, I hope I fall dead in the middle of the stage and I hope it's to a song I wrote!"
--Dolly Parton

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

This And That and The Other


Today's New Word

From A.W.A.D.

remonstrate verb intr. To reason or plead in protest.


Earlier I was reading an article about 'sociable robots' and suddenly paused at this sentence: "She's a Harvard-trained psychologist and sociologist..."

'Harvard trained?' I asked myself. What exactly does that mean? Is that how one becomes a psychologist and a sociologist? By attending classes and lectures that 'train' a person? Like a dog is trained? By making the dog (and the student) perform certain mental exercises and muscle movements? Specific actions that with constant repetition lead to an eventual reward for performing a 'trick' exactly as instructed?

The deeper I thought about it the more logical seemed to be this process of 'learning.' The acquiring of skills, either simple or complicated, is nothing more than a complex version of the old monkey-see, monkey-do method.

A man or a woman, can be 'trained' to become more skilled at any task or discipline, it seems. One can be a Julliard trained concert pianist, or a Harvard trained attorney, or whatever.

But a robot can be programmed.

There's the difference.



“What scientific concept would improve everybody’s cognitive toolkit?”

That is the question asked by EDGE the website run by literary agent and author John Brockman. 163 of the world's top thinkers contributed their answers.


John Brockman


I just subscribed to the 4 weeks free digital edition of The New Yorker -- now all I have to do is learn how to use it. You can try the digital edition free for four weeks by registering, providing your name, address, and email address HERE.


More tomorrow . . .


Monday, January 17, 2011

This is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
(1929 - 1968)



To my great surprise, while I was browsing the titles of Kindle books, I saw that Alice's Adventures In Wonderland was offered FREE. It had been a long time since I'd read that book (and the price was right) so I downloaded it. After reading the first chapter, I was so glad that I had done so.

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson; (27 January 1832 - 14 January 1898), better known by the pseudonym Lewis Carroll, in Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, was able, through his masterful use of words, to almost instantly transfer the essence of a very young 19rh century British girl into the usually cranky and cantankerous mind of an aged 21st century man (me). That process is (in my opinion) the closest thing to true magic as anything can be. And I don't think that is hyperbole. It is not meant to be. It's just a simple statement of fact.

Lewis Carroll

Lewis Carroll wrote the poem Solitude

I like it... a lot.


Happy Birthday Michelle Obama


Now for something completely different.

There exists a little-known work of literature that you might like to read.

Or... you might not. It is:

Fart Proudly
by Benjamin Franklin.


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Reading, Writing, and Other Stuff . . .


Recently I have been reading about anarchists and about various well-know historical proponents of anarchy.

Emma Goldman, Anarchist
Once named The Most Dangerous Woman Alive

I wonder why the philosophy of anarchy is so despised by so many? Its basic tenet seems highly desirable, especially in the face of the seemingly unavoidable corruption of people involved in big government.

Anarchism, according to Wikipedia is a political philosophy which considers 'the state' undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful, and instead promotes a stateless society, or anarchy.

That seems. at first thought, to be a desirable goal.

I'll continue reading and thinking about it.


Another subject I have been reading about is Diogenes the Cynic, also known as Diogenes of Sinope

Diogenes Living In His Tub

One story has it that Diogenes used to stroll about in full daylight with a lamp; when asked what he was doing, he would answer, "I am just looking for an honest man." Diogenes looked for a human being but reputedly found nothing but rascals and scoundrels.

Another story says that Diogenes asked, "If I lack awareness, then why should I care what happens to me when I am dead?" At the end, Diogenes made fun of people's excessive concern with the "proper" treatment of the dead.

Some of Diogenes' detractors have said he was an obnoxious beggar and an offensive grouch. Sounds like my kind of guy.

I intend to read on and try to discover (and understand) more about the discipline of cynicism.


I do not often read the pronouncements of literary critics but at times I happen upon one that intrigues me enough to make me read it to the end. Such as, from The New Yorker: Man of Mystery -- Why do people love Stieg Larsson’s novels? -- written by Joan Acocella January 10, 2011.

Below are a couple of excerpts from the piece.

First excerpt:
Having got American readers to buy more than fourteen million copies, collectively, of Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy books--"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" (2008, American edition), "The Girl Who Played with Fire" (2009), and "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest" (2010)...

Second excerpt:
Larsson submitted the manuscript to Piratforlag, a publishing house with a strong line of crime novels. The editors there never opened the package. (They did not read manuscripts from first-time authors.) Today, one almost pities them. The publisher that accepted the Millennium trilogy--Norstedts Forlag, the second firm Larsson contacted--has sold three and a half million copies of the books.

Read more here



Presently, the main objective of SOARS is to begin a campaign to get the law eventually changed in the UK so that very elderly, mentally competent individuals, who are suffering unbearably from various health problems (although none of them is "terminal") are allowed to receive a doctor’s assistance to die, if this is their persistent choice. Surely the decision to decide, at an advanced age, that enough is enough and, avoiding further suffering, to have a dignified death is the ultimate human right for a very elderly person.

Here is an appeal from a brief Annual SOARS Lecture (London - September 17, 2010)


That's all I have today. More tomorrow, maybe.

"The most disheartening tendency common among readers is to tear out one sentence from a work, as a criterion of the writer's ideas or personality ..."
--Emma Goldman

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Alea iacta est . . .


Today is the anniversary of the birth of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
(1929 - 1968)
Pastor, Civil Rights Activist

Martin Luther King, Jr. reportedly said, "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. "

And I believe that citizens of all countries in the 21st century would be well advised to remember those words and to then base their actions accordingly.


NASA is inviting student teams to design and build experiments the agency will fly into the stratosphere, a near-space environment, more than 100,000 feet above the Earth. The top four teams will receive up to $1,000 to develop their flight experiments and travel to Glenn Research Center May 18-20. During their visit, they will have an opportunity to tour the center, watch as NASA helium weather balloons carry their experiments to the edge of space, recover the experiments and present their results at Glenn's Balloonsat Symposium.

For more Balloonsat information, registration forms and project ideas, interested students, teachers, and education administrators can visit:


I certainly do not accept as truth everything I hear on Talk Radio (or anywhere else for that matter) but some of the stuff that seems ridiculous turns out to be (after giving it some deep thought) worthy of consideration after all. One example of that, taken from the blog of Neal Boortz -- "Are we going to wake up tomorrow to find a move by liberals to get Patrick Henry's famous "Give me liberty or give me death!" line removed from government school textbooks. Who knows! It might encourage someone to commit a violent act in defense of their freedoms!"

That observation is not so far-fetched as it might appear at first glance.

After all (as Boortz adds) Democrats are upset with the GOP's name for the ObamaCare repeal legislation. The, "Repealing the Job Killing Health Care Reform Act." They are upset that it includes the word "killing."


In No Thanks for the Memories (New York Review of Books) January 13, 2011, Gordon S. Wood writes (slightly paraphrased):

Harvard historian Jill Lepore, as a staff writer for The New Yorker makes fun of the Tea Party people who are trying to use the history of the Revolution to promote their political cause. From her point of view, "What would the founders do?" is an "ill-considered" and "pointless" question. It has nothing to do with the scholarly science of history. "No NASA scientist decides what to do about the Hubble by asking what Isaac Newton would make of it."

That opening paragraph made me think, and I am still pondering the questionable wisdom of using previous-era ideas and outmoded time-colored attitudes of those overly revered thinkers from an earlier age to determine the course of modern-day innovative thoughts and political or social pursuits. It is sometimes difficult to separate sincere ideals from mere control-seeking shenanigans.

Perhaps it's time to put aside such old bromides as "Our Founding Fathers" and "Framers of The Constitution" and describe current events and attitudes in our recognizably new and more enlightened frames of reference.

By the way, a bromide is a figure of speech used to describe a phrase that -- having been employed wantonly or repeated excessively -- now communicates insincerity. The American humorist Gelett Burgess in his book Are you a bromide?, classifies human beings into "bromides" and "sulphites", bromides being those who can be relied on to produce stock phrases and reactions in every situation and sulphites being those capable of independent thought and non-conformist behavior.


Again in the pursuit of things trivial, here is another sentence I recently read (in an official memo) that gave me pause... "Charles Bolden will travel to his hometown of South Carolina to participate in three events on Jan. 18 to celebrate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr."

It seems to me that "...his hometown of South Carolina..." should be phrased as "...his hometown 'in' South Carolina..." because the original seems to indicate that South Carolina is the name of his hometown.


Purple Cow
written by Gelett Burgess


In conclusion:

These last three personal and grouchy paragraphs have been deleted. They were hastily written in a fit of wrathful rancor and are therefore unfit for publication.


rancor: resentment: a feeling of deep and bitter anger and ill-will


Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
--Martin Luther King, Jr.

Friday, January 14, 2011

A Couple Of Thoughts . . .


Recently I read the following sentence: "She and her parents and her three brothers and sisters lived in a small, two-bedroom apartment." Nothing wrong with that... right? But, being the weirdly maverick reader that I am, I immediately began to wonder as to whether this sentence meant the she had three brothers and three sisters which would amount to six siblings, or that she had merely three siblings of mixed gender, perhaps two brothers and one sister or two sisters and one brother. And I couldn't drop the question from my mind. It kept coming back, time after time.

Why would I dwell on such a bit of trivia? The meaning of the sentence was clearly that the family lived in an apartment that was too small for them, and not about how many brothers and how many sisters she had.

I succumb to that kind of distraction way too often. Which probably says a lot about my defective cognitive ability and my seeming total lack of higher-literary perception.


The Writer's Almanac is the second website I visit each and every day, without fail. Today, after reading the poem of the day at the top I continued on down to the birthday list (as I always do) and read the capsule excerpts about famous authors and poets who had been born on this day. I read about Mary Robison. Her latest novel, I discovered, is One D.O.A., One on the Way. I was intrigued by the title, so I hopped on over to (as I often do) and read selected pages from the book. What a disappointment. The story was told in first person, present tense. And the artificiality of that type of story-telling (in this instance anyway) simply repelled me. I closed the Amazon page and decided that I wanted nothing further to do with the writings of Mary Robison.


The word couple has been bothering me lately in that it seems to have opposing meanings within itself. I looked it up on the Web

* a pair who associate with one another; "the engaged couple"; "an inseparable twosome"
* match: bring two objects, ideas, or people together; "This fact is coupled to the other one"; "Matchmaker, can you match my daughter with a nice young man?"; "The student was paired with a partner for collaboration on the project"
* a pair of people who live together; "a married couple from Chicago"
* link together; "can we couple these proposals?"
* a small indefinite number; "he's coming for a couple of days"
* pair: form a pair or pairs; "The two old friends paired off"
* two items of the same kind
* copulate: engage in sexual intercourse; "Birds mate in the Spring"
* (physics) something joined by two equal and opposite forces that act along parallel lines

See what I mean? Context is everything.


A 'Couple' of Words Of The Day

bricolage is a term used in several disciplines, among them the visual arts and literature, to refer to the construction or creation of a work from a diverse range of things that happen to be available, or a work created by such a process.

Wikipedia has much to say about this most interesting word.

And . . .

exaptation refers to shifts in the function of a trait during evolution. For example, a trait can evolve because it served one particular function, but subsequently it may come to serve another. Exaptations are common in both anatomy and behavior. Bird feathers are a classic example: initially these evolved for temperature regulation, but then later were adapted for flight.

Wikipedia explains and illustrates this word, too.



C. S. Lewis once stated, "Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one. To love is to be vulnerable."

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Writer Writes . . .


Interview with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
by The New Yorker...

Q: What, in your opinion, makes a piece of fiction work?

A: Emotion. The ability to make me feel and care. The ability to move me in some way. The ability to touch something inside me that is often left untouched by newspaper articles.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I think this author's answer (above) is more deeply profound than it appears on the surface When I first read it, I cried out, "Yes... that's it." Recollecting the books and stories I've read, I most strongly remember the works that moved me. Emotion. That's the key.

Also from The New Yorker

An audio slide show of some paintings done by George Condo is available by clicking HERE.



1: noun: Sleep; a place to sleep; a bed.
2: verb intr.: To sleep or nap.
3: noun: The hide of a young or small animal or a bundle of such hides.
4: noun: The basic unit of currency in Laos.
5: noun: A unit of weight equal to 1000 lb (453.6 kg).

Now there is a word that carries its weight... lots of different meanings.


"The only really good piece of advice I have for my students is, Write something you'd never show your mother or father."
--Lorrie Moore

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Are Titles Absolutely Necessary?

The Marriage of Technology and Literature


Word Of The Day

verb tr.:
1. To portray in words.
2. To draw or paint, especially in outline.



I found a valuable website for research titled: Classics in the History of Psychology, an Internet resource developed by Christopher D. Green of York University, Toronto, Canada

Classics in the History of Psychology is an effort to make the full texts of a large number of historically significant public domain documents from the scholarly literature of psychology and allied disciplines available on the World Wide Web. There are now over 25 books and about 200 articles and chapters on-line. The site also contains links to over 200 relevant works posted at other sites.


American Tragedy is the title of a brief article in the New York Review of Books blog. It was written by the well-known author Larry McMurtry, who lives just down the road from the Safeway store in Tucson where last week's shooting occurred.

Larry McMurtry

I live near and shop weekly at a Safeway market in Tucson, too... not the same one, but a few miles North and East of there.


Unpublished literature-oriented writers seem to think that the events in their own lives will be just as earth-shakingly interesting to potential readers as it is to the writer. Especially when those events reflect true happenings from their own lives when presented in the form of fiction, in the form of a novel. Well... it ain't always the case. Almost never, in fact. Especially when the aspiring novelist is fixated on the personal angst of his or her particular experiences in early life.

Better that the writer focus on the fictional aspects of his (or her) story and stop fretting about that inner sense of having suffered unduly at the hands of some seemingly uncaring human being who existed back in the long, long ago.

And yes, once again, that is merely my opinion.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Guns, Guts, And Glory . . .

Gosh, so many people are really upset about that young man shooting people in Tucson. As they should be, of course. But merely emotionally sermonizing on TV about the need for more government control over gun ownership is one thing, but it is quite another thing to actually do something about it.

Just look at this year's schedule of upcoming gun shows in Arizona.

The president gives a rousing speech, as do the various members of congress. And these are the people who can do something about it.

But they won't.

They won't.

Do you know why?

Because the manufacturing, wholesaling, and retailing of firearms is a BIG BUSINESS. It is a high profit business, it provides jobs, and it is a huge source of tax revenue for the government. And besides, every canny politicians knows that actions are never necessary... it's the well-chosen emotion wringing words that mollify the ignorant masses.


I had a brainstorm. Why not form a new political party comprising atheists, agnostics, and radical haters of organized-religion? Why not? Perhaps its time has arrived.

This would be a political party made up of people who can think. What a novelty that would be. A party of genuine thinkers who are not ruled by an irrational fear of the wrath of some mythical god... or any other such superstitious nonsense. A party of scientists and intellectuals along with people of uncommon sense would be a logic-based and certainly a much more efficient government.

Why not?


Have you ever heard the phrase: As rich as Crassus? Who was Crassus? And exactly how rich was he? Well, research tells me that:

Marcus Licinius Crassus (ca. 115 BC - 53 BC) was a Roman general and politician who commanded the left wing of Sulla's army at the Battle of the Colline Gate, suppressed the slave revolt led by Spartacus, and entered into the political alliance known as the First Triumvirate with Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus and Gaius Julius Caesar. At the height of his fortune he was allegedly worth more than 200,000,000 sestertii (more than 1.79 trillion dollars.) Considered the wealthiest man in Roman history, and perhaps the richest man in all history, he is ranked in the top 10 wealthiest historical figures.

Why do people want to be rich?
I have never understood that.


Thunderstorms on Earth emit antimatter

NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has detected beams of antimatter launched by thunderstorms. Acting like enormous particle accelerators, the storms can emit gamma-ray flashes, called TGFs, and high-energy electrons and positrons. See photos and read about it here

If you click the above link, you can see a fantastic video and great photos, and you can read many other space related articles, such as Kepler discovers rocky planet orbiting another star.


Words Of The Day

In medias res or medias in res ("into the middle of affairs") is a Latin phrase denoting the literary and artistic narrative technique wherein the relation of a story begins either at the mid-point or at the conclusion, not at the beginning.

cognize means know: be cognizant or aware of a fact or a specific piece of information;


I look up at the night sky. Is anything more certain than that in all those vast times and spaces, if I were allowed to search them, I should nowhere find her face, her voice, her touch? She died. She is dead. Is the word so difficult to learn?
--C.S. Lewis

Monday, January 10, 2011

Things Others Are Saying . . .

Here is a wealth of information on the recent spate of animal deaths in the world.


Isaac Asimov on the greenhouse effect back in January, 1989.


Word Of The Day

Autodidacticism (also autodidactism) is self-education or self-directed learning. An autodidact is a mostly self-taught person, as opposed to learning in a school setting or from a full-time tutor or mentor.


Even Huckleberry Finn can't say the N-word anymore.

Publisher's Weekly announced that they want to publish a version that won't be banned from some schools because of its language, two scholars are editing Mark Twain's classic Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to eliminate uses of the "N" word and replace it with "slave,"

It's all right to rewrite history due to shamelessly propagandized 'consensus', I suppose.


NPR (National Public Radio) has a fine website. and I like to visit it frequently. If you've never read some of their stuff, you are missing out on a valuable experience. One example is the coverage of the victims involved in the Gabrielle Giffords tragedy, including a picture of the nine year old girl killed and the revelation that she was born on 9/11.

Here is the link


While determining whether of not the word Nobelist is a correct designation for a winner of the Nobel Prize (yes it is) I spent at least a half hour reading all about the Nobel Prize.

The Nobel Prize



Choice In Dying is a blog written by Eric MacDonald arguing for the right to die and against the religious obstruction of that right. Eric MacDonald is a fine writer and a dedicated proponent of the right to assisted dying. He is an example of the newly-evolving 21st century thinking man.

In my opinion.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

What Is A Curmudgeon?

There are so many previously unsuspected facts that, if it were not for the modern world wide web, I would never have come to know about. I am amazed at how much I have learned in the last twenty-some years.

For example:

Tolls for crossing the Panama Canal are assessed based on weight, and ships routinely pay over a hundred thousand dollars for a single crossing.

I wonder how many people are aware of that fact. Or have ever even considered it.

And, most of these bits of information have crept into my awareness serendipitously, entering my knowledge base while I was busily reading about other subjects.

I learned about the above Panama Canal's cost of crossing while reading from a poetry website, The Writer's Almanac.


I recently bought, via, a pair of low-cost powered PC speakers with a built-in headphone jack. When they arrived I hooked them up immediately and found, to my great annoyance, that the speakers had a disturbingly loud 60 Hz background hum. Being the curmudgeon that I am, returning the item (repacking, trip to P.O., paying postage, etc.) would be more trouble than the speakers are worth. So I sent an email to the seller by way of Amazon.

Here is the message:

The speakers I purchased via arrived in yesterday's mail. I was disappointed to discover that they produce an annoyingly loud 60 Hz hum. I am a retired Electronics Technician and I recognized this HUM for what it is, usually caused by defective filtering of the line voltage. I do not intend to return the item. I am 71 years old and I despise the annoyance of returning purchases of low cost such as this one. "It just ain't worth the trouble." I'd rather toss them in the waste can, absorb the loss, and buy a Name Brand set of speakers with headphone jack. As I should have done in the first place.

But I do intend to announce my displeasure with your product at every opportunity, beginning with my Amazon feedback, my blog, and word of (email) mouth complaints to friends and multiple forum members. If that makes me appear to be a curmudgeon, well then so be it.

I wonder what their response (if there is one) will be.

Actually, I am not terribly upset by the incident. I do not use my PC speakers all that often. And if in the future I decide to do so, I can always reconnect my original speakers.


I am aware of the circumstances involved in the manufacture and wholesaling of electronic equipment. I once worked for a transformer manufacturer as assistant engineer of quality control. Even though we worked diligently to test, discover, and remove all defective products, it was standard procedure for management to instruct the testing department foreman to secretly repack the defective units in the bottom tray of each case of transformers, believing that the customer would not return the shipment over a few defective parts. And, of course, management at the customer's location went ahead and installed these defective transformers in their products.

There is no doubt in my mind that this profit-raising process is still happening.

That's just the way things are.

And that's just the way I am.


Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Happy Birthday Stephen Hawking


Stephen Hawking

More later today . . .

Friday, January 7, 2011

Untitled, Again . . .


Last night I stayed up later than usual to watch a fascinating movie. It was titled Starting Out In The Evening and starred Frank Langella. Fascinating is not really the word to describe my reaction to this film, but it'll have to do for now.


Ellie Garratt is a writer who lives in Southwest England. Her blog is one I have bookmarked and one I frequently visit. Not because she writes as I write (Good God, no) but because she does not write as I write. She is so painfully young. Much of the writing by young people, I find, is both boring and often atrocious. Why then do I read Ellie's blog? Because I have found that I can learn from her. Her delightfully open mind is often frequently exposed (laid bare) by her charming choice of simple words and by her easily understood phrasing. Ellie fascinates me.


Wikipedia's List of Common Misconceptions is a good site to stay away from. It might make you begin to doubt the 'truths' you have always believed in. Such as:

In ancient Rome, there was no wide-spread practice of self-induced vomiting after meals, and Romans did not build rooms called vomitoria in which to purge themselves after a meal. Vomitoria were tunnels underneath the seats of a stadium, through which crowds entered and exited.


Searing meat does not "seal in" moisture, and in fact may actually cause meat to lose moisture. Generally, meat is seared to create a brown crust with a rich flavor via the Maillard reaction.


As hard as it might be for you to accept, sugar does not cause hyperactivity in children. Double-blind trials have shown no difference in behavior between children given sugar-full or sugar-free diets, even in studies specifically looking at children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder or those considered "sensitive" to sugar. The difference in behaviour proved to be psychological.

There are a helluva lot more. So, if you have a few hours to spare, you might want to take look at the list.


Are birds falling from the sky examples of pareidolia, eschatology, or something else?

Even bats are falling dead in Tucson, Arizona.

Natural phenomenon? Nefarious, covert scientific experimentation? Or perhaps some government conspiracy?


Word Of The Year

American Dialect Society
2010 Words of the Year
NOMINATIONS to be voted on by
the American Dialect Society
Jan. 7, 2011, Pittsburgh


How much do you know about bedbugs? How much do you want to know There is a fairly comprehensive article about these creatures for the curious reader (like me.) Below is the first paragraph:

Bedbugs never went away. DDT gave them a hard time in the 1940s and for years afterwards, until Rachel Carson’s campaigns outlawed it, but resistant strains survived. Other insecticides -- synthetic organophosphates and pyrethroids -- have come and gone, but none has been a challenge for the bugs’ versatile genomes. Blood is their only food. The bug explores the skin of its victim with its antennae. It grips the skin with its legs for leverage, raises its beak, and plunges it into the tissues. It probes vigorously, tiny teeth at the tip of the beak tearing the tissues to forge a path until it finds a suitable blood vessel. A full meal takes 10 to 15 minutes. A hungry bug is squat and flat like a lentil. When replete, its distension shapes it like a long berry. A bug will feed weekly from any host that is handy.


To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism.
To steal from many is research.